Inside ordinary exterior, something extraordinary

DREAM HOME

Rowhouse: All he could say was "Wow!" when they entered the plain-looking Canton rowhouse. They made an offer the next day.

September 19, 1999|By Lisa Wiseman | Lisa Wiseman,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Robin and Dave Taub moved into their home in Canton it was like "going from a Ford Festiva to a Mercedes," Robin said.

Indeed, the Taub home, priced in the mid-$200,000s, is impressive. In its previous life, the home was a neighborhood bar. That is, until it burned to the ground. For five years, the lot sat vacant, until a contractor bought the property and built the existing home. He planned to live there a long time, but moved to California and put his dream home up for sale.

When you walk in the doorway of the home, you're stopped dead in your tracks by a three-story high glass-enclosed atrium with a hot tub. Beyond the atrium is a kitchen influenced by the waterfront neighborhood with its cool, blue-green tiled counter tops and terra-cotta floor. On the roof, there's a deck complete with a bar, palm trees and tiki torches.

The home has an light and airy feel to it, not only because of the glass atrium, but also with its open staircases and multiple windows, including a large, round window on the second floor resembling a porthole looking out on the Canton neighborhood.

The house is the Taubs' first home together, bought eight months before their wedding day on Aug. 28. In fact, it was the first house either had ever lived in. Robin and Dave, both 29, had lived in apartments all their lives. She in Annapolis, he in Fells Point.

"We weren't sure what we were looking for in a house," Robin said. "We just started looking."

The only thing the Taubs did know for sure when they started house hunting was that they wanted to live in Canton. For one thing, the location was beneficial for Dave, who is president and owner of the Impreza Group, a graphic and Web design firm on Canton's main square on O'Donnell Street.

"I wanted to be able to walk to work. I work 10-hour days, and I'd rather have more time for myself than sitting in traffic for two to three hours a day." he said.

But convenience wasn't the only factor. The Taubs liked the look and feel of Canton. For Dave, it was the fact that the neighborhood is a growing area. That's the main reason he started his company there. "A lot of newer tech companies are here. I wanted to be a part of the growth. We could have gone anywhere, but I like being in the middle of things," he said.

For Robin, it was the friendly charm of the area. "It's quiet. It's in the city, but it's not as city-ish," she said. "There are families here. People are friendly. You can talk to your neighbors. It's pretty calm here."

Jaws dropped

So, without the help of a real estate agent and without any clue as to what they were looking for, the couple started driving around Canton. Seeing a "For Sale" sign outside an ordinary-looking rowhouse, the Taubs made plans to visit the home the following day.

They weren't prepared for what was inside. "Our mouths just dropped open," Robin said. "We couldn't believe this house was in Baltimore," she said.

"All I could say was, `Wow!' " Dave said. "It's not what I expected at all."

The Taubs decided to make an offer the next day.

But they were worried.

"I wasn't sure if the place was do-able. We hadn't really talked about price or anything," Robin said.

Being self-employed, Dave was concerned about getting a mortgage. "It made it a longer process. I was a little nervous," he said.

Plus, the Taubs had competition.

"There were two other couples looking at the place and they kept talking about how much they loved it."

Luckily for the Taubs, the other two couples decided not to make an offer. "They were looking for something more for families," Robin said.

The house definitely isn't for families. In fact, the Taubs admit that it's not quite a home built for a young, married couple just starting out. "It has a very masculine feel to it," Robin said. "With the hot tub and bar, it's more of a bachelor pad."

Neighbors on the Taubs' block still refer to the home as "Cool Joe's place."

Open layout

Apparently, the previous owner built the home for entertaining. The Taubs also do a lot of entertaining, Dave said. The couple moved into the home right before Christmas and held a New Year's party a few days later.

"It was perfect. We did it before we moved any furniture in it," Dave said.

The open and minimalist look of the home made it easy to furnish, Robin said, especially for a couple just starting out. "We really didn't have to buy much," she said. "You don't want to junk this place up with a lot of stuff."

"It was a blank canvas from a decorating standpoint," Dave said.

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